Lack of community spirit
JULIE LINCOLN
Thursday, 6 November 2003

The family of former Warren man Wayne Dowton feels there was no community spirit shown by the local community homes committee, who recently rejected his daughter's application to rent a unit for him at the Readford Street complex.
Mr Dowton, who injured his spinal cord in a fall in February this year and is now an incomplete quadriplegic, is due for release from Princess Alexandra Spinal Unit in Brisbane and his family, who live in the Warren district, describe the decision made by the committee as a "moral injustice".
Family spokesperson Jenny George said after three and a half months of "hedging and stalling", the committee advised that Mr Dowton at 46 did not qualify as the accommodation was for aged clients only, even though the family felt that this clause in the guidelines was used only after all other arguments had been refuted.
"Prior to this ruling we were given other reasons for Wayne's rejection including that 'if Wayne fell out of bed at night and called for help (which was stressed 'was only human') he would disturb the other residents'.
"We were also told 'the comings and goings of Wayne's carers would disturb the other residents', despite the other residents also receiving the very community-based assistance Wayne would need."
Mr Dowton's application for a trial period at the wheelchair-friendly accommodation had been supported by his Brisbane (hospital) based social worker Dominique French, who said in a letter to the community homes committee that Mr Dowton had worked very hard at rehabilitation and was able to mobilise himself in a wheelchair and perform basic activities of daily living.
"Apart from personal carers, Wayne will be fairly independent within the community and will have access to family and friends and community nursing care support, which is very important for someone who has suffered an injury such as this."
Ms George said the family was angry and disappointed that on at least two occasions the committee broke the very rules that were used to keep Wayne out.
"We know that one unit in the complex has been and is now being rented to a person who is working in a relief position in a town business.
"This person was not a local and not the required age, but was offered the unit as it had remained empty.
"On another occasion a young person in need was also given a unit, which we think was great and in the spirit of what we consider the community homes to be about.
"Unfortunately this goodwill did not extend to Wayne. Who could be in greater need now than Wayne?"
"We hope the decision to reject Wayne's application was motivated by their concern for his welfare and not because they consider him unsuitable for other reasons."
Community Homes spokesperson Trish Oriel said that in rejecting the application by Alicia Dowton they had her father's best welfare at heart.
"We looked at Wayne's case with great compassion and felt it wasn't the right place for him," she said.
"The community homes are for people who can look after themselves and we felt that Wayne couldn't look after himself.
"We wanted to make sure this was the right place for him but his carers couldn't answer our questions."
Mrs Oriel also said she didn't consider the fact that one of the committee members was now renting a unit was a conflict of interest, as that person had no input into the final decision regarding Mr Dowton's application.
Community Homes secretary Rod Sandell said although Mr Dowton needed community help, he shouldn't be put in an old people's home.
"This is one of the most difficult decisions we have ever made," he said.
"We would have been doing him (Mr Dowton) a great injustice by putting him there."
Mr Sandell also said at the times the units were rented outside the guidelines, there had been no other applicants.
"The vacant units have now been filled," he said.


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